a_r_williams (a_r_williams) wrote,

Back Me Up!

Have you ever had a computer problem, one which threatened every single file, application, or piece of data you had on your computer? Maybe it was a virus, or the computer simply failed due to age, or you erased something you later realized you needed.

Either way, the data that was saved was corrupt or no longer attainable. A good back up plan can help get rid of the panic when disaster strikes and years of work are on the line.

Creating a backup routine can save your life.

There are various ways to backup your system, but the best routines create multiple levels of redundancy in order to avoid problems.

Offsite Backup:

#Backup Software

There are computer applications that you can place on your computer that will save your data in an online storage area. The importance of this is that one, it creates a dependable backup, and two it's located in an area different from where you keep your computer ( this is important in case your house is destroyed/damaged in a fire or storm). These programs often are able to be set to backup data weekly at a certain period of time when the computer most likely will not be in use ( this requires constant internet access and the computer to be on ) and the user will not have to do any manual activation to get it started ( other than to set the program settings ).

# E-mail

Another method is to email important files to yourself. If the files are extremely large you can use file compression software ( some of which come with the computer ) in order to zip the file and decrease it's size. To unzip the file you will need the same program that the file was created with when it was compressed, which should be easily attainable if something happened to your computer.

Regular Backup:

#Flash drives, CDs, DVDs

Flash drives, CDs, and DVDs are another good way to backup data. They require manual backup and have a more limited storage capacity, but they give the user the ability to make their files easily transportable from one computer to the next. With the constant increase in technology, flash drives can store a large amount of information at an affordable price.

#External Hard Drives

External Hard Drives are basically the same as the hard drive located on your computer. They can be connected to your computer with a USB cable. Like your hard drive they can story a vast amount of information and also can have programs run from them. Which make them handy when you frequently use computers that do not have the software that you need to work with already installed. There are various types, some are more transportable than others.

#Internal Hard Drive

You may also want to develop the habit of saving work that you are currently working on frequently.This will save the data to the computer, but in the case of a sudden power outage or computer malfunction it may stop hours of work from being lost. Although, some computers are capable of saving unclosed files when they unexpectedly lose power, it's best to make sure that you have backuped your work rather than to hope you have.

File Organization:

Although, it may not seem like an important part of the backup process, organinzing files effectively can be an important aid in backing them up. By creating a logical system where the files are separated into groups and sub-groups, the user can decide what particular files they want to save or transfer to a different device relatively quickly. For example I have my writing organized as follows:

--short stories
   --folder short story 1
   --folder short story 2
   --novel 1
         --chapter 1
         --chapter 2
--writing group
   --reviews received
   --reviews owed

File Naming:

The other important part of organization is file naming. You want to name files in such a way that you can remember what they are. The name should tell what the file is without it being opened. It may also help to make it noticeable if one is more current than another ( the date saved is not always helpful ). For instance:

Chapt1_TGTBTU              ( tells the chapter and the book )
Chapt1_TGTBTU_v5       ( tells the chapter, the book, and the draft )

This can also be used when transfering files back and forth between a flash drive. Sometimes it's possible to forget which file is the most recent. If the file has the same naming convention, saving will cause an overide of one of the files. If it's the wrong one--OOPS!

To counter this, give files on your flash drive a unique identifier. Lets say I have a blue flash drive that I save my files to and then work on in another location and different computer. I might put something in the name to determine the flash drive version. In this case blFD ( to indicate blue Flash Drive ).


Now, you can copy the file back and forth from the flash drive without overiding anything unintentionally. Although you will have to manually update the file transfer.


Printing out your finished stories or manuscripts is a good way to save a hard copy. Although, it will add to the cost of writing ( ink, paper, and printer ) it will allow you to store your work and read it even if you do not have a computer. Also, it can sometimes be easier to catch mistakes with a printed copy.

What methods do you use to make sure you do not lose your work? Is there anything you can add that might be affective for backing up your data?

Tags: back up, writing
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